Pres. mansion plans still under construction

  The debate over what to do with Englesby House, the broken-down UVM Presidential Mansion on South Williams Street, is inching forward.   In an email, Board Chairman Robert Cioffi stated that UVM trustees are still considering the issue and that a plan for the Presidential Mansion is expected in the coming weeks.   Built in 1913, Englesby House has served many past University presidents, but has not been occupied since former Interim President Edwin Colodny resided there in 2001.   Though the mansion’s status and all related costs of its repair came before the Board as early as October, no specific timeline for renovations to the building has been established, nor has a firm declaration of how extensive those renovations will be.   “We had really looked at two different elements for the building: one for the exterior work that needed to be done, and one for the interior as a separate review,” said Bob Vaughan, director of capital planning and management. “We have done the design work for the exterior and are waiting for a decision to be made.”   Despite reports that trustees were dawdling and that plans to refurbish Englesby House have been stalled, no consensus had ever been formed regarding the future of the house, said Richard Cate, vice president for finance and administration.   “There was never a declaration that we were going to do something about it,” he said. “Some of the media coverage led people to believe that we were going to do a certain thing.”   Cate also said the administration has done what the trustees asked, and now all there is left to do is wait.   University officials said they have concerns that overshadow the aging house, such as the presidential search process, which has been narrowed down to five candidates.               “The trustees have been engaged with the presidential search and that has taken priority,” Cate said. “[The Englesby House] was no sort of emergency.”   According to Cate, last year’s preliminary estimates for renovation were running over the $2 million mark.   Of the improvements, the most pressing is a solution to the flooding problem that initially rendered the building uninhabitable.   After insulating the drainage system and waterproofing the foundation, the improvements alone could cost over $600,000, Cate said.   Additional exterior work includes a new roof, estimated at $180,000, and the replacement of windows and touch up of wood trim, which may require another $100,000, he said.   Once renovations move inside the house, another slew of needed repairs confront University decision-makers.   Trustees are weighing the cost analysis of the renovations, which could be done in pieces, and deciding whether or not they are essential, Cate said.     When asked if he thought the opportunity for a president to live in the Englesby House was advantageous to the campus community, Cate was hesitant, first insisting that his view did not necessarily reflect the view of the Board.   “To be honest, in this day and age I don’t think that a president is disadvantaged in any way by not living on campus,” he said.   Cate added that many modern college presidents live on campus due to substantial investments made by universities in on-campus residences decades and even centuries ago.   Senior Matt Parisi and junior Rachel Wellman find the renovation price tag a bit steep, but support the idea of having the next president close at hand, acknowledging that he or she is the “face” of the University.   “If you’re going to restore [the Englesby House], the future president shouldn’t have a choice whether or not to live there,” Wellman said.